Discover more from What Makes Great Writing?
Shiny New Idea Syndrome - Solved
New strategies for a old problem
Last month, like January, was a pretty hellish month.
Felt like I spent half the time in a vet hospital and the other half in a human hospital.
I noticed something this time that I’m sure you’ve noticed as well: hospitals are very much a “hurry up and wait“ situation.
Time ticks by like molasses, then flashes past like lightning. Hours of nothing, only to be broken by a single piece of information from the doctor, spurring everyone to action.
Then you wait again.
Then you repeat the process.
During a “waiting” portion, I was reading a book called Branding That Means Business. One of the chapters triggered an idea. Which led to another idea. Which led to… well…lots of extra words on the page
That noise you just heard is an angry segment of this list, picking up their pitchforks and torches, preparing to burn me to the ground. I get it. Marking up a book like this is sacrilege to some.
There was a time in my life I treated every book like a library copy. Holy. Pure. Untouchable.
At some point, that gave way to this new habit.
I scrawled my way through Ty Burr’s Gods Like Us. I scribbled my way through Yancey Strickler’s This Could Be Our Future. And I’m currently doodling my way through The Beauty of Everyday Things
The method is a bit controversial. The mindset behind it is probably even more so.
You see, I suffer from Shiny New Idea Syndrome.
When I’m marking up books, that’s a symptom of this disease. However, most experience the effects while actually writing.
Normally you’ll feel it toward the end of the first draft. Maybe the beginning of the second. Embers of the original spark have long burned out, now replaced by the drudgery of sorting the metaphorical coals. The end is nowhere in sight. The remaining work is dull, and your mind…
To poetry. To fantasy. To a presentation. Toward ANYTHING except what you are currently writing.
Now that I’ve done this professional writer thing for nearly 15 years, I’ve developed my own unique solution.
My cure (if you can call it that) for Shiny New Idea Syndrome is…
Just roll with it.
Take that new idea and write. Abandon the half-finished work.
You see, unlike the hoards of writers who curse their distracted minds, I’ve decided that Shiny New Idea Syndrome is a gift to writers. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s inherent to the creative mind.
Great writers think sideways, not linearly. Their thought patterns are scattered. They live for the epiphany. The lightning bolt. The aha moment.
Sure, some of these delightful bouts of inspiration occur when you are supposed to be doing something else entirely.
And no, you probably shouldn’t leave ALL your work half-finished forever.
But in a world of heads-down hustlers, gritty grind-it-out-ers, and thick-headed thought leaders who tout the endless cycle of “eat the frog” type metaphors, it seems likely that nobody has given you permission to do the thing that most likely drew you to writing in the first place.
Daydream. Doodle. Drift.
Keep chasing the lightning, and then come tell us what you saw.
Much love as always <3
-Todd B from Tennessee